I certainly couldn't imagine choosing the good part of life without the church! Growing up church was always a priority in our lives. And by priority I mean if the doors of the church were open and we weren't seriously sick - we were there. I can remember getting so frustrated when I was younger and we went on vacations and I'd tell Daddy we still had a day left in the weekend. Couldn't we just stay one more day? I'd get a quick, "No, tomorrow is Sunday." And no matter where we were, we left on Saturday and we were home and at church on Sunday.
It became evident to me not just through his words, but through his actions, that church was more important to Daddy than work, a family vacation, or anything else. He'd much rather miss a day of work, than church. While it may have been frustrating to me when I was younger, the older I became the deeper of an understanding I had of why. I began to learn what Daddy already knew - That there was no better place on earth; in fact, church is a little heaven on earth!
The book of Hebrews describes it as this:
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh..." (Hebrews 12:22-25, emphasis added):I love waking up on Sunday morning and reading this passage as a reminder of where I'm headed that day! The city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem! He is there and we can feel his presence. And to "an innumerable company of angels." There are definitely angels among us.
Then here's where it gets really good - God the Judge of all is there. And yes, I've felt condemnation at church too. (In fact if you don't feel some condemnation at your church, I encourage you to find a church that preaches the entire gospel.) Fortunately, there's someone there to help with that condemnation- Jesus, the mediator! No longer do I have to approach a priest, but I can go directly to the throne! When that condemnation is felt, there is also grace available! Jesus is there to intercede on our behalf. To plead with the Father for our every need.
Besides, God, Jesus and the innumerable angels, there is also the spirits of just men made perfect. No, we aren't perfect but the spirit within us is! And when I come to church I can feel a connection between my church family that just isn't there with others out in the world. That connection, that bond that binds - is Jesus! I see people who God has placed in my life for a reason. Many that have helped me through some difficult times in my life. They prayed for my soul and they're praying for my life and now my children's souls! I've been at some low points and received a card in the mail with some encouragement or a phone call just letting me know they were praying. I've lost loved ones and they've been there to comfort me. They have accepted, loved, and encouraged me throughout every stage of my life.
And while we are there "see that ye refuse not him that speaketh." While we are there at church in His presence, among His people, let's do His will.
So to bring it down and get even more personal, here's what church is to me:
- The place where 28 years ago today, I was saved and began this journey with Christ.
- The place where I go to worship Christ in spirit and truth.
- A place of refuge-where I can forget the cares of the world for just awhile and focus on Christ.
- A place of spiritual nourishment. God will provide through the music, testimonies, and message exactly what I need for the upcoming week. I can get a spiritual "fill up".
- A place of fellowship. I attend a smaller church and they truly are my family. Jesus knew we needed fellowship with each other. That's why he set up the church while he was here.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God."Ever felt just out of place in the world through the week? I hope you have! Yet, for awhile I can gather with some like-hearted people. People who get me because Christ lives in them too!
Ever heard the saying, "God saved my soul, but the church saved my life." To put it in a nutshell, that's what it has done for me. That's what it can do for you. It can give you that life "more abundantly." There is no other entity in the world that does more good than the church. What a privilege it is to be just a small part of that!
As we go throughout this week sitting at His feet, reflecting on the church, I pray He'd give us a clearer picture of the beauty and power of it! May we all commit ourselves to the body of Christ and follow where He leads.